Youverlakia (Greek meat and rice balls)

Oh I love this dish. I got it from that wonderful little collection of meze recipe by Sarah Maxwell. It may not be to everyone’s taste, so watch out. The word means I believe, ‘little spheres’ and it is a bizarre way of cooking – you combine raw mince with raw rice into balls and effectively boil them! But it works. And at the end you get these amazing little spheres, literally, with every grain of rice sticking out of the ball – standing to attention. And it is served with that avgolemono sauce – again yumm. The sharpness of the lemon cuts across the comforting meat-and-cereal mildness of the balls.

1 lb minced pork (or other meat would be fine too)

5 oz long grain or basmati rice

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, crushed or chopped fine

4 tablespoons very finely chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh mint chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 egg yolk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Flour for dredging

1 tablespoons olive oil

3 eggs, beaten

Freshly sueezed juice of 2 lemons (without the seeds)

Chopped fresh parsley to garnish.

Get a large mixing bowl and put in the rice, onion, garlic and herbs. Add the egg yolk and the salt and pepper. Mix it all thoroughly with your hands, and shape the mixture into 2 inch balls (dampen your palms to stop the balls sticking) and put these onto a plate with the dredging flour on it.

Meanwhile take a large deep frying pan and put in the olive oil and put the meatballs in it. Then gently add enough boiling water to just cover the balls. Now put a lid on and simmer for about 40 minutes (but do check and add extra water if necessary in the pan).

When these are nearly done, make the egg and lemon sauce: beat the eggs and lemon juice until frothy. Whisk in 2 tablespoons (vigorously to stop the sauce curdling) of the cooking liquid from the meatballs. Take the meatballs out of the frying pan and place delicately onto a hot serving plate. Now pour the sauce into the frying pan with the remaining liquid and stir the mixture continuously until the sauce is thickened – but don’t let it boil. Now pour the sauce mixture over the meatballs and garnish with fresh parsley.